POLITICS

Mistawasis First Nation: Saskatchewan Band Using Banishment

01/09/2012 11:18 EST | Updated 03/10/2012 05:12 EST
AFP/Getty Images
LEASK, Sask. - A Saskatchewan First Nation says it has found an effective way of keeping criminals out of their community.

It practices banishment, the same policy recently adopted by a reserve in Hobbema, Alta.

Mistawasis First Nation Chief Norma Johnstone says two people — a man and a woman — have been banished from the community since 2005.

He says they were coming out on days that band members received their cheques and were blatantly selling drugs.

Johnstone says chiefs, elders and the community decided banishment was the best way to deal with the problem.

She says another couple are on the band's radar right now.

When she heard about the situation in Hobbema making national headlines, Johnstone said she was surprised and wondered why a bylaw hadn’t been put in place earlier.

“We had heard about Hobbema and how it is really bad with drugs… and I’m glad that they’re making this ban, but I’m surprised it took them this long,” she said.

“You need the involvement from the elders and you need the chief and council to be behind this. You need people that want to see the betterment of our community and keep our youth away from drugs. I know we won’t be able to, but at least we can make it harder for it to be done here.”

The Hobbema bylaw still needs to be approved by the federal Indian Affairs Department.

The move to evict known gang members came about because band officials said it was the best way to curb Hobbema's growing problem with violence.

Critics have suggested the policy might just end up having gang members move and become a problem for a different community.

(CJME)